by Yxta Maya Murray
University of Nevada Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-1-64779-164-3 | Paper: 978-1-64779-163-6
Library of Congress Classification PS3563.U832H57 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.54

Laura de León is a radar astronomer who studies Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs) such as threatening asteroids and comets at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. In Los Angeles in 2020, several crises are coalescing. The first strain of SARS-CoV-2 triggers the lockdowns, the city roils with protests of Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd and the police killing of Breonna Taylor, while the Bobcat Fire sweeps across the San Fernando Valley. In the midst of these emergencies, Laura is struggling to keep her family alive.

Simultaneously, Laura is trying to write the history section of a Congressional report titled the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan. This report will advise Congress that it must develop a system to detect and deflect PHOs, and the section Laura is working on cites several historical meteorite impacts as proof that the Earth is now undefended against a significant impact event.

A story about family, love, risk, and science, A History of Hazardous Objects contemplates how experiencing trauma and pain may help us secure a safer and more just world.